Creativity helps you push beyond your preconceived notions to think outside the box. What is more, it helps you to find a tailored solution to any client’s needs.

Still not sure about how it drives your brand forward? media update’s Maryna Steyn speaks to Neo Mashigo, chairperson of the Creative Circle, about how creativity acts as a driver behind brands.

Let’s turn our ears:

1. What is the key to creating creative and relevant work that talks to an audience?
The starting point is understanding that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to creativity. The creative industry is different; it’s about pushing boundaries. Because creativity is not defined or fixed, you have to look at what you haven’t seen before, and go where people have not gone before.

Creativity is not about precedent like many other fields — It’s about what hasn’t been done and there’s no formula for that. It requires a combination of logic and magic with a lot of bravery. Logic for the insights, the data and the thinking. Magic for the ideas and a true belief in the power of creativity. And bravery for trusting your intuition to leap into the unknown.

2. How can creativity be promoted as a business resource?
While things are changing, there is still a belief that creativity is about the surface-level outcomes, whether it's a beautifully illustrated print ad, a cleverly-designed piece of packaging or a film packed with the brilliance of visual storytelling.

Although all those things are creative, at its core, it’s really a process or a way of thinking that goes beyond the conventional to find something new. The way we express this is to “inspire the transformation of product, people and perception through the power of creativity.

Tom Kelley, who is a partner at the renowned design and innovation consultancy IDEO, once said, “If you acknowledge that creative thoughts are the engine that drives innovation, suddenly creativity becomes really important.”

Creativity greatly expands the space in which to find solutions by thinking out of the box. I believe that the best solutions are found in the most unexpected places.

3. How does creativity act as the driving force behind innovation?
Creativity acts as a driving force for innovation by allowing you to think beyond the boundaries of what’s expected. Think about how many times you’ve heard someone say, “It’s how it’s always been done.” It’s easy to fall into this trap because, the truth is, thinking out of the box does require time and effort.

For our agency and group, the power of creativity has seen us unlock opportunities and foster innovation for our clients that go beyond just advertising. Take, for instance, Takealot. In the beginning when they needed to build a delivery network, founding partner and CEO Mike Abel had the idea to use the delivery drivers of another client, Mr Delivery, when these drivers weren't delivering food.

This idea was the reason Takealot bought Mr Delivery. By thinking beyond the expected, we enabled an innovative solution that benefitted both clients who are still, to this day close clients, partners and friends.

4. How can creativity help show a brand’s humanity and how does this contribute to the brand’s societal impact?
Consumers aren’t blind to the fact that brands need to sell products or services in order to make money, but as the saying goes, ‘it’s not what you say, but how you say it.’ And that is true for brands too!

With so many channels and so much competition, brands often get caught up in trying to cut through the noise and in the process become transactional. Consumers, however, become loyal to a brand because of the way it makes them feel and connects with them.

If there is anything Covid-19 has shown, it’s how important it is to consumers that brands aren’t just looking at making money but addressing issues. Humanity for brands comes in when businesses look at more than just the product they are selling, but also what their consumers need and find ways to solve that.

Creativity plays a role in this by allowing brands to explore in a way that they may not have thought about previously or considered. It also provides a space for expression that connects with consumers.

5. How do you ensure in your business that creativity is encouraged while still delivering on business goals and return on investment (ROI)?

We see creativity as the product that we provide to clients, and with that we strongly believe in the power of creativity to deliver on the objectives our clients have rather than compromise them. Because of this, ROI is significant for two reasons. For every piece of work we do, we have to ask:
  • Is this work relevant?
  • Is this work original?
  • Is this work impactful?
If that ROI is in place, it will give the client the better-known return on investment. And while it’s easy to tick the ROI boxes individually, it’s the trifecta that is much harder — and what we always aim for.

A good example of that is Nando’s. As a brand, it has become the voice of South Africa and cemented itself in that space. That said though, Nando’s also has to sell chicken so we can’t just focus on those ads alone. And even then, those big ads that South Africans have come to love still need to convert. It’s a fine balancing act, but that’s also what creativity is all about.

Sometimes it’s a beautifully shot ad and sometimes it’s figuring out how to sell chicken without making people feel like they’re being sold something.

Is creativity a driver for business in your creative agency? Let us know in the comments below.

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If you enjoyed hearing an expert’s opinion, why not also read Brand positioning through clarity: A Q&A with Diana Springer.